"With the new president in office next year, America will have the chance to turn the page on the way veterans were treated after Vietnam. Below are the top 10 actions the new president must take:
1. Ensure Thorough, Professional, and Confidential Mental Health Screening
IAVA supports mandatory and confidential mental health and TBI screening by a mental health professional for all troops, both before and at least 90 days after a combat tour.
2. Advance-Fund VA Health Care
Year after year, the VA budget is passed late, forcing hundreds of veterans' hospitals and clinics to ration care. IAVA believes the only way to ensure timely funding of veterans' health care is to fund the program one year in advance. In addition, IAVA endorses the annual Independent Budget, produced by leading Veterans Service Organizations including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and AMVETS, as the blueprint for VA funding levels.
3. Overhaul the Military and Veterans' Disability System
IAVA believes the military and veterans' disability system needs a fundamental overhaul to streamline the process and provide adequate benefits to our wounded troops.
4. Cut the Claims Backlog in Half
Hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans are awaiting an answer from the VA on their benefits claims. Without this crucial source of income, many are struggling to make ends meet. The claims backlog must be cut in half with the new president's first year in office.
5. End the Passive VA System
The VA offers a wide array of benefits and services - but many veterans do not know what they are eligible for. The VA must do much more to aggressively advertise their services, especially online and in rural areas, and ensure that eligible veterans are receiving the care and benefits they have earned.
6. Combat the Shortage of Mental Health Professionals
The VA must be authorized to bolster its mental health workforce with adequate psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to meet the demands of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. IAVA also supports increased funding for Vet Centers to alleviate staffing shortfalls. Furthermore, the next president should issue a national call to service, bolstered by incentives, for mental health care workers in America.
The Department of Defense must address current shortages of mental health professionals. IAVA recommends a study of reasons for attrition among military mental health professionals, and the creation of new recruitment and retention incentives for mental health care providers, such as scholarships or college loan forgiveness.
7. Create Tax Incentives for Patriotic Employers
IAVA supports tax credits for the hiring of veterans, including National Guardsmen and Reservists, and those at risk for homelessness. IAVA recommends tax credits for employers who, when their reserve component employees are called to active duty for over 90 days, continue to support their employees by paying the difference between the servicemembers' civilian salary and their military wages.
8. Fight Homelessness among Veterans
50,000 new vouchers should be issued to house homeless veterans and the next president should end homelessness among veterans by the end of his first term.
9. Give Families Access to Mental Health Support
Military families should have improved access to mental health services, and active-duty families should be given unlimited access to mental health care, including family and marital counseling, on military bases. Families should also be given more effective training in the warning signs and effects of psychological injuries.
IAVA supports the creation of new VA programs to provide family and marital counseling for veterans receiving VA mental health treatment.
Congress should appropriate funding so that the military can formalize and coordinate the current volunteer family support services for the families of deployed servicemembers.
10. Repeal the Waiver of High-Deployment Pay
IAVA opposes the Secretary of Defense's use of national security waivers to avoid paying servicemembers "high deployment allowances" of $1,000/month. The high deployment allowance should be enforced, and should include servicemembers who are currently in a combat theatre and have served more than 365 days in a hazardous duty zone over the past two years (for active-duty troops) or over the past five years (for those in the reserve component)"
IMO, it's hard to quarrel with these!